A scout team in football also referred to as a practice squad is a group of players that spend their time acting as the opposing team in practice. The scout team is typically made up of players that were narrowly cut from the team.
These players can also be called upon during the season if a player on the active roster goes down with an injury.
Scout teams are most common in the NFL through some colleges use these teams to give younger players a shot to make the team and gain some experience.
How Many Players On A NFL Scout Team / Practice Squad?
In 1993 when scout teams were created the CBA stated you were able to have a total of five players on your scout squad. Since then that number has grown year over year. Now in 2021, the total number of players on an NFL scout team is sixteen.
The number was increased to this size due to the covid pandemic. When injuries occurred it became too hard to have players in for tryouts while the pandemic was going on.
To fix this issue the number of players on the squad was increased. There has been no announcement made about reducing the number of scout players once the pandemic is over.
Of these sixteen players, there are several different experience groups. A team can have up to six players with three or more seasons of experience in the NFL.
They are able to have four players that have one or two seasons of experience. And the rest of the scout team is made up of players that have played fewer than nine games in the NFL.
These different experience levels are reflected in their salaries.
Making The Jump To the NFL
Two players are able to be activated from the practice squad to the active roster each week. These players are able to be sent back down to the scout team without going through waivers.
Players also have a chance to get on an active roster by being picked up by another team. Each week the team can choose to protect four scout team players from being signed by another football organization.
The rest of the squad is eligible to be signed by any team that wants to add them to their active roster.
How much do NFL scout team players make?
Practice squad wages have increased steadily over the years have become quite a comfortable income. That is if you can keep your job throughout the whole season.
The minimum salary for a scout week player is $8,000 per week while the veteran’s scout team players earn $12,000 per week.
If you are able to stick around for the full 17 week season you will be looking at a salary of $136,000 to $204,000 a year.
What is a scout player vs a player scout?
One distinction you need to know regarding scout players is that they are very different from a player scout.
A scout player is simply a player on the scout team. They practice with the active roster and imitate players on opposing teams. This allows the starters to get realistic practice prior to their game.
A player scout is someone who watches players to evaluate their talent. Player scouts work for a football organization and are responsible for bringing players onto the team. This is very different from a scout team player which is of course a player on the team.
What Positions Tend To Be On The Scout Team?
Now that you know what a scout team is in football you may be wondering what positions tend to get placed on this team. After all, with over twenty starting football players, the practice team is not big enough to feature players at all positions.
Quarterback is one position that is featured on almost every scout team. There are a few reasons that this position often takes up one of the valuable positions on the scout team.
First off, these quarterbacks are often needed in order to accurately run the opponents offense. Scout teams are used to give the defense practice against their upcoming opponents.
Without a quarterback, this could not be done very accurately. On some occasions, wide receivers and running backs may imitate a mobile quarterback but aside from that, a quarterback will be needed.
Additionally, teams carry a quarterback on the practice squad because there are often only two quarterbacks on the roster.
This means if the starting quarterback goes down the team will only have one remaining quarterback on the roster. When this happens the team will want a backup quarterback that knows the system.
By keeping a quarterback on the practice squad these players can learn the playbook and be ready to step up if an injury occurs.
A wide receiver is another position that often ends up on the scout team. One reason for this is that each football team is going to have several wide receivers starting on their offense.
This means the extra depth is needed for this position as there can be as many as three starters. Additionally, wide receivers are also likely to play multiple positions for the football team.
Many wide receivers have roles on special teams including kick and punt returning. A player skilled enough at returning kicks can earn a roster spot for that role alone.
This means a team may have several players on their practice squad ready to step up if any of their several receivers go down with an injury.
Cornerback is another position that requires several starters on the roster. Most defensive formations have two starting corners backs but when running nickel and dime packages a team can have as many as four.
With the increasing passing usage in the NFL teams need to keep a large number of cornerbacks on their team. Since this position is so valuable teams will often keep talented cornerbacks on their practice squad.
They can serve in the scout team as worthy imitators of an opponent’s defense. And they will also fill into a role if one of the cornerbacks on the roster gets injured.
That is all on scout teams, read about if practice squad players get superbowl rings if you want to learn more.